As I write this, yet another football club is deciding whether or not to pay a convicted rapist to play for them. There are lots of people loudly saying that this shouldn’t happen, and on the other side, there are a lot of men who think it should. A lot of these men are so adamant that they should be able to pay to watch a convicted rapist kicking a ball about that they are sending truly abusive tweets and messages to people who think he should maybe not be paid to play.
I suspect that, had Ched’s victim been their daughter, wife, mother, friend, sister or colleague, they would be less keen to tell me that he’s done his time, and to tell me that I’m a bad bad person for thinking that the prison part of a sentence doesn’t constitute someone ‘doing their time’. I further suspect that these men saying that now he’s done his time, he should be allowed to slot back into his lucrative profession without comment, won’t be saying the same when Rolf Harris is released and asks to return to the BBC.
The only ‘commentators’ I have any common ground with are those who ask why Ched is special (he’s not) and why football has welcomed back Lee Hughes and other convicted criminals. Which is a question I’d like to reflect back to them. Why have you, as football clubs and fans welcomed back men who have killed, raped, beaten their wives, beaten their partners and committed all kinds of other crimes? Why has there not been more widespread censure of men in football who have committed violent crime. What is it about football culture that says to men who have committed crimes, “It’s ok, you’re welcome back here, have a huge paycheck and the adulation of thousands”? I really find it difficult to believe that the young men who have committed violent crimes are the only ones who are capable of playing football to a professional level, so what is it about football that wants to cleave to their violent criminals?
If the whole Evans affair has shown me anything it’s that rape culture is alive and well, and supported by a disturbing number of young men. And that football needs to clean up it’s act.